RIP Andy Williams

The only news I can find on this is a short notice at PuffHo: Andy Williams has died of cancer at 84. He wasn’t a huge favorite of mine (I thought Tony Bennett, his closest rival in my mind, was better and edgier), but of course he’ll always be associated with “Moon River,” which is a very good song. (Like a starling, it’s something lovely that has lost its appeal through familiarity. Look closely at a starling next time you see one.)

There was also “I Can’t Get Used to Losing You” and “Days of Wine and Roses,” both of which were hits that appealed to me mildly.  And then there were his t.v. Christmas specials.

In memory of Wiliams, then, have a listen:

Oh, and look at this beautiful bird:

The common starling, Sturnus vulgaris

42 Comments

  1. Dominic
    Posted September 26, 2012 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    I have a stuffed starling which perches in its box by my bed. Much nicer alive but they have the most fabulous iridescent plumage. Andy Williams was a favourite when I was young – we had the Andy Williams Show on TV in the UK & I loved The Cookie Bear.

  2. Posted September 26, 2012 at 7:19 am | Permalink

    Ironically I always liked his version of Born Free.

  3. Eoin Robertson
    Posted September 26, 2012 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    Was never a fan of his and did not like his semi covert racist remarks after Obama,s election.

  4. Posted September 26, 2012 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    But starlings are invasive in the US, and no matter how pretty, they make my stomach turn. I have watched them tearing native birds out of their hole nests, and watched the starling hordes replace those native hole-nesters over time. Horrible creatures in the US. Though I have to admit that even I get swept away by synchronous swirling clouds of starlings in flight.

    • Dominic
      Posted September 26, 2012 at 8:33 am | Permalink

      That is bad. Blame American Acclimatization Society –
      http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=call-of-the-reviled
      Alien species introduced by humans, are in my opinion, the next worse thing humans have done after climate change. The full ramifications are only beginning to be felt. Trees are victims of human spread diseases, humans spread zoonotic diseases, worms change ecosystems…
      http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/19646548

      One day it may settle down but in between we will have tens of thousands of years of disruption to earth’s species.

      • Posted September 26, 2012 at 9:51 am | Permalink

        Yes, and nobody even notices!!!! The chestnut and elm have hardly left a trace on people’s memories, even though these were once among the pillars of eastern mesic forest ecosystems. Now the hemlock, ash, and who-knows-what-else are on the way out as well due to introduced pathogens. Meanwhile European earthworms have eliminated the entire duff ecosystem in eastern deciduous forests, eliminating scads of wildflower species over huge geographic areas. And nobody notices. And introduced Buckthorn takes over the pitifully small remnants of eastern prairie, while other European weeds decimate marshes and other native ecosystems. And still nobody even notices. People today are completely blind to the details of nature. There is no hope for nature in the US.

        Luckily tropical countries have not suffered nearly so badly. Maybe those ecosystems are more tightly packed in niche space, so it is harder for an invasive to enter, except on islands.

        • Posted September 26, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

          I forgot to include fire ants in my rant. They arrived in Texas around the same time I did. The lizards and snakes and big walking sticks and other cool things that were abundant in my first couple of years in Texas disappeared almost completely a few years later, thanks to this Argentinian plague.

          • bacopa
            Posted September 26, 2012 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

            Fireflies in East Texas fell victim to the fire ants by the mid sixties. Even as recently as the mid seventies, massive waves of junebugs would pour out every May, now a junebug is a rare find..

            As for Andy Williams, I can only point out that Nelson Muntz was a huge fan.

      • jesse
        Posted September 26, 2012 at 11:44 am | Permalink

        “the next worse thing humans have done after climate change. ” I agree; maybe even the worst.

        I live on 20 acres of woodland in a wooded part of the Great Lakes area of the U.S., and introduced garlic mustard is now here en masse. In the U.S. and Canada it is so invasive that it is killing off tens of thousands of acres of native woodland wildflowers, resulting in monoculture understory; future generations will not even have a chance to know some of the native plant species, many of which take five to seven years to reach flowering stage from seed under GOOD conditons. Garlic mustard chemically changes the soil so other plants cannot grow. Seeds live 15 yrs. and are spread by road equipment, loggers, and even car tires. It’s a nightmare. There isn’t anything one can do anymore until some sort of bio control is available, and it might be too late to save some native plant species. It’s very sad.

        I think if it does “settle down”, it will only be because humans have had to stop their transport of plant materials around the world. Unlikely.

      • jesse
        Posted September 26, 2012 at 11:58 am | Permalink

        On a lighter note, I will say that starlings can make you laugh. Their mimicry (at least the urban ones) is very amusing.

  5. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted September 26, 2012 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    I adore Tony Bennett, but always thought of Andy Williams as a one-hit wonder using a song that was performed more appealingly by Audrey Hepburn in “Breakfast at Tiffanys”. He also seemed just a tad phony.

    Wikipedia reports “He gave Rush Limbaugh permission to use his recording of the song “Born Free” for the theme to the “Animal Rights Update” on his Limbaugh’s radio show – in which a portion of the song is then followed by gunfire – saying “Hey, it’s fine with me. I love what you’re doing with it.” The record company later blocked Limbaugh’s use of the recording.”

    • Filippo
      Posted September 29, 2012 at 6:28 am | Permalink

      I confess to being disappointed re: Williams’s Obama and Limbaugh remarks. However, were they “racist,” as such? Does that capitalist demigod Herman Cain not have similar views regarding Marxism – does Limbaugh not deign to favorably smile in his direction – and, if so, ought he not be similarly charged?

      With my limited knowledge as a budding adolescent, based on what I learned (right after the RFK assassination) of Williams’s relationship with the Kennedys, I always thought that he was significantly liberal. I distinctly recall his making remarks (at the ’68 Democratic convention?) to the effect that farmers in his home state were facing hard times, and therefore a Democrat in the White House was to be preferred. I’m mystified by that vis-a-vis his claim of being a staunch life-long Republican.

      Regarding:

      “I adore Tony Bennett, but always thought of Andy Williams as a one-hit wonder using a song that was performed more appealingly by Audrey Hepburn in “Breakfast at Tiffanys”. He also seemed just a tad phony.”

      For sure, Ms. Hepburn was a most aesthetically-pleasing sight to behold. I enjoy her dulcet, lilting version of “Moon River.”

      Did you similarly enjoy her singing in the 1964 movie version of “My Fair Lady” (as compared to that of Julie Andrews in the stage version)? That was her singing, wasn’t it? 😉

      Julie Andrews, in her remarks of thanks and acknowledgements upon winning the 1964 Best Actress Academy Award for “Mary Poppins,” especially thanked Mr. Jack Warner (at whose studio “My Fair Lady” was filmed).

      I myself very much enjoy Tony Bennett. But, if you consider Williams’s a “one-hit wonder” with “Moon River,” then it seems you would have to take the same “one-hit wonder” position with Bennett with “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” even though they both had not a few hits.

      And as far a Williams “seeming” a “tad phony” is concerned, there’s no end to this business of how something or someone “seems,” and pinning down any sort of objective or rational basis for such statements. Perhaps we’re all a “tad” phony, as far as that goes. Media today treat reporters’ opinions – how things “seem” – as if they were “facts.”

      I’m reminded of my dear mother one day out-of-the-blue blessing me with her opinion that one of my friends “is a little odd.” Well, apparently more than a “little,” else, why mention it? Again, if we dig deep enough, we’re all a bit “odd” as well as “phony.” And if my friend is a little odd, then by my reckoning I must be at least as odd as her, as we get along famously, and her alleged “odd” – ness does not seem to compromise her effectiveness as as a businesswoman and parent.

  6. frank sellout
    Posted September 26, 2012 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    My parents named my childhood cat after Andy Williams. (He was one of the best cats, ever.) Never had much connection with him but I do like “Can’t Get Used to Losing You.” The English Beat also do an excellent version of it.

    Cheers!

    • Dermot C
      Posted September 26, 2012 at 11:52 am | Permalink

      Or ‘The Beat’ to the Brits – they had copyright problems over their name and were known as the EB abroad.

      I grew up with them in the pubs and clubs of Brum, England, Saw them back in the day for 50p a shot, and thought they were no good, over-priced! Just goes to show how much I knew. 3 or 4 great singles is enough to make you happy, and that’s what they produced, in my humble…

  7. Greg G.
    Posted September 26, 2012 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    We always watched his TV show when I was a kid. I thought his “Huckleberry friend” was Huckleberry Hound.

    • fullyladenswallow
      Posted September 26, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

      This reminds me of when I used to read Mad Magazine way back when. They had an occasional feature where they’d rewrite the lyrics to popular songs with an accompanying cartoon. My favorite was “Chopped Liver”, sung to the tune of “Moon River”:

      “Chopped liver, onions on the side.
      My social life has died from you…”

    • HaggisForBrains
      Posted September 27, 2012 at 2:12 am | Permalink

      As a teenager, I thought he was “…waving round the bend to Huckleberry Hound”

  8. Dermot C
    Posted September 26, 2012 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    Anthony Newley told this story. He was at some awards show, nipped to the loo, and found himself sharing relief-time with Henry Mancini, no less, composer of Moon River.

    “Great song, Tony,” HM said, before congratulating him on the lyrics he had written for John Barry’s tune, “Tell me, where did you get the idea for the melody?”

    It was only then, according to Newley, that he realised that the Barry-Bricusse-Newley penned ‘Goldfinger’ was merely ‘Moon River’ in 4-time.

    • Filippo
      Posted September 26, 2012 at 11:24 am | Permalink

      I’ve listened to both songs quite a bit; I’ll listen some more to evaluate the commonality. So far I don’t hear other than a most fleeting similarity, no more so than, for example, the first three notes of “Ebb Tide” and “Misty” and, if I correctly recall, the theme from the American “soap opera” “Days of Our Lives”).

      • Dermot C
        Posted September 26, 2012 at 11:44 am | Permalink

        Neither do I, to be frank; apart from the first three notes. Nevertheless, more than somewhat embarrassing when all you’re trying to do is to point your MOR percy at the porcelain.

        Btw, Newley was unsure whether Mancini was really accusing him of plagiarism.

  9. Filippo
    Posted September 26, 2012 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    I thoroughly enjoy both Bennett and Williams. Bennett does have his own unique “edgy.”

    At Youtube see:

    – Williams’s “You Are My Sunshine” for a respectable “edgy” on his part.

    – “Tony Bennett and Andy Williams City Medley” for a good opportunity to evaluate the similarities and differences between two great singers.

  10. revjimbob
    Posted September 26, 2012 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    The starling, I think, has a certain Art Deco look about it.

  11. MadScientist
    Posted September 26, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    Williams wasn’t bad for an entertainer but his bigotry put me off. I prefer Tony Bennett as well.

  12. Ken Kukec
    Posted September 26, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    Those Andy Williams Christmas specials made me fear that the alpaca was destined for the endangered species list.

  13. Dawn Oz
    Posted September 26, 2012 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

    Watching him sing ‘Moon River’ is a special treat. I’m sorry to hear that he made racist remarks about…Obama. I’ll separate the two in my mind.

    • MadScientist
      Posted September 26, 2012 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

      Unfortunately his racist remarks were very much in character. Andy Williams was like Archie Bunker without the compassion.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted September 27, 2012 at 1:06 am | Permalink

        Andy’s racist views were abhorrent, and his act couldn’t have gotten any more square if he’d have shuffled onto the Branson stage every night brandishing a plumb line and carpenter’s level. But to give the old Huckleberry his due, he came off as a stand-up guy by showing face in court each day while that hot-pants little French ex-wife of his stood trial for clipping her ski-bum boyfriend — Spider something or other.

        • MadScientist
          Posted September 27, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

          It was so bad that when he sung about a “White Christmas” I half expected him to be wearing bedsheets and burning a cross.

  14. Filippo
    Posted September 26, 2012 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

    Most comments so far reflect on the species which have invaded the United States. Just curious, what are a few examples of U.S. species that have invaded other countries?

    • jesse
      Posted September 26, 2012 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

      North American gray squirrels into Great Britain.

      • Dave
        Posted September 27, 2012 at 4:29 am | Permalink

        American mink are firmly established in Scotland and some other parts of the UK. I believe there are also feral North American raccoons in Germany and parts of Scandinavia.

    • emydoidea
      Posted September 27, 2012 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

      Beavers, elk and several species of trout and salmon in Chile and Argentina. Beavers also in multiple Eurasian countries. Elk also in New Zealand. Ruddy duck in Europe. Red-eared sliders in Eurasia and Australia. Mosquitofish in Australia. Lots of plants everywhere.

      • Dermot C
        Posted September 27, 2012 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

        I assumed Filippo’s question was satire, to which his answer would be Homo sapiens; straight-bat replies, instead. Either this thread is bone-dry faux-naïf or I’m reading way too much into it.

        • jesse
          Posted September 27, 2012 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

          Well, it is a biology blog, er, website, after all.
          You may be on the right track, though. There has been some speculation that syphilis was not in Europe until Columbus brought it back across the Pond. Really.

          No comment however about it being bone-dry.

          • jesse
            Posted September 28, 2012 at 7:05 am | Permalink

            Sorry, but that was an admittedly really bad attempt at humor. It won’t happen again : )

        • Filippo
          Posted September 28, 2012 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

          No, it is not satire, it is a sincere question. Here in the U.S., when one reads of invasive species, it is from the perspective of the U.S. being invaded, not other countries across the Atlantic and Pacific from the U.S. being invaded by U.S. species.

          (Reminds of once typing in the Google search engine “U.S. emigration statistics.” It kept asking me, “Do you mean ‘immigration'”? I guess it just couldn’t believe that anyone would want to emigrate from The Land of “American Exceptionalism.”)

    • MadScientist
      Posted September 27, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

      Blatta americana

  15. Bob Eggleston
    Posted September 26, 2012 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

    Please unsubscribe

  16. Lynn David
    Posted September 27, 2012 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    Starling feathers make great soft hackles for wet flies.

  17. Mark
    Posted September 28, 2012 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    I grew-up watching Andy Willams on TV because he was my mom’s favorite singer. In ~1980 I saw him in a Dallas nightclub standing by himself. I introduced myself to him and told him about my mom. I asked him for an autograph in her name – he refused.

  18. Bebop
    Posted September 28, 2012 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

    Beauty when represented in music is a perfect demonstration of how physics/math/qualia interact in such a way that it is hard to deny the ontological value of meaning.

    Of course it is subjective!
    Otherwise it couldn’t mean anything..

  19. Filippo
    Posted September 29, 2012 at 5:31 am | Permalink

    “The common starling, Sturnus vulgaris.”

    So, does there exist the UNcommon starling, the non-vulgaris?

    When the Indian subcontinent first rammed into Asia (approx. 75M years ago?) would the inescapable migration and exchange of certain species of both locales be considered “invasive”?


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